Light to be shone on violence against women
Jamaica AIDS Support for Life (JASL) will today (International Women's Day) ramp up its new media campaign aimed at raising public awareness about the harsh realities of violence against women.
The campaign will shine a light on some of the most vulnerable in the society - sex workers, those who are LBT (lesbian, bisexual and transgender), deaf, as well as women who fall into more than one vulnerable group.
Launched last Wednesday, the renewed campaign recognises and seeks to address in practical ways the fact that in Jamaica, women and girls are victims of violence, a situation made worse if they are infected with HIV or other sexually transmitted infections.
"The links between gender-based violence and HIV/AIDS are complex and influenced by biological, socio-cultural, and economic factors," JASL said in a press release last Friday.
Among the objectives of the campaign is to provide a better understanding of the multiplier effect of violence against Jamaican women, especially those who are marginalised. It will also seek to empower these women to advocate for improvements in their circumstances.
Improving the knowledge and skills of police officers and other public servants who respond to the needs of women who are victims of violence and HIV with more urgency and sensitivity is also a priority, according to JASL.
In fact, the overall aim is to create widespread awareness about the dehumanising impact of violence on marginalised women in order to improve the needed supporting and enabling environment for dealing with the issues.
This is especially necessary, Nicolette Jones, JASL communications coordinator, told The Gleaner, since the global statistic that at least one in every three women will experience violence at some point in her life is a reality in Jamaica.
And so the project, Expanded Gains to Decrease and Prevent Violence against Women in the Context of HIV and AIDS, now in its third and final year, is aimed at identifying practical solutions to help stem violence, while decreasing women's vulnerability to HIV.
This includes providing services to assist women and girls access better health care, and build their capacity to advocate for systemic change.
Funded by the United Nations Trust Fund to End Violence against Women, it has impacted more than 1,200 women and girls from the key target groups of sex workers, persons living with combined disabilities, the deaf, seropositives, and the LBT community.
They have accessed well-needed services and have been trained in life skills, legal literacy and advocacy. The experiences of these women and girls are now being used to carry out this media campaign.